An influential South Sudanese minister and opposition figure has resigned, dealing a major blow to the country's fragile peace deal.
At a press conference in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Tuesday, Lam Akol Ajawin, the minister of agriculture and food security, blamed President Salva Kiir for undermining the peace deal by allegedly masterminding a military attack against the former vice president, Riek Machar, in the capital Juba.
The minister also accused the president of "dislodging him from Juba and invoking his absence to fill his position with a person of his choice."
"There is no more peace agreement to implement in Juba," Ajawin said, adding, "The only sensible way to oppose this regime, so as to restore genuine peace to our war-torn country, is to organize outside Juba."
Ajawin has also written in a resignation letter that "one cannot with a clear conscience serve under such a regime."
The minister was part of the transitional government of national unity, which aims to seek an end to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.
President Kiir recently replaced Machar with a former peace negotiator, General Taban Deng Gai, in a move that could escalate tensions.
Machar, a former rebel leader, was sworn in as first vice president in April, eight months after the peace agreement was signed between the government and rebels loyal to him.
However, he left Juba with his troops earlier this month after fresh fighting erupted between his loyalists and government forces. Machar said he would only return if an international peacekeeping force guarantees his safety.
Despite the August 2015 peace deal, battles persist across the country. There are numerous militia forces that do not abide by peace agreements and are driven by local agendas.
60,000 have fled South Sudan in four weeks: UN
The United Nations refugee agency, also known as the UNHCR, said Tuesday that nearly 60,000 people have fled South Sudan since violence escalated recently.
According to the agency, the majority escaped to take refuge in neighboring Uganda, doubling the flow over that border in the past 10 days. The rest fled to Sudan and Kenya.
Melissa Fleming, spokeswoman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), has expressed concern that armed groups operating on roads to Uganda are preventing the people from leaving their country. She has also warned that the armed groups loot villages, murder civilians and forcibly recruit young men into their ranks.